As the Pendulum Swings

Over the course of the first two games against the Houston Astros, the Arizona Diamondbacks scored 23 runs from 26 hits including 6 home runs two of which were grand slams. It appeared as though the Diamondbacks bats had come fully loaded to Minute Maid Park. This was especially surprising considering that the Astros were on an eight game winning streak when the Diamondbacks came to town. Finally Arizona was beginning to look like the dominating team that they had been during the first month of the season. After watching this team struggle from May through July; the fans were poised to watch their favorite team complete another dominating road trip. Everything seemed to be lining up right for the Diamondbacks. The final game of the series would send the resurging Randy Johnson to the mound in what looked to be a classic pitcher’s duel.

Randy Johnson has been pitching very well as of late. He has definitely hit his stride with regards to pitch selection and location. While he no longer throws a 98-99 mile per hour fastball, the 91 mile per hour one does the job. In the past several games he has been spotting his pitches with pinpoint accuracy and making hitters get themselves out. I think everyone was confident that this game would end up with a Diamondbacks victory and series sweep.

The Astros would counter with their ace Roy Oswalt. Oswalt has struggled this season and has a record close to .500 with an ERA that is over a run above his career average. Like Randy Johnson, Oswalt is starting to find a grove. During this month he has lowered his ERA by half a run and has a 2-0 record. Still with the hot Diamondbacks bats this should have been a win for the snakes.

In the first inning Randy Johnson walked Mark Loretta after getting Darin Erstad to fly to center. He then gave up a single to Miguel Tejada to put 2 men on. Lance Berkman lined out to left field for the second out and it looked as though Randy was going to get out of this inning unscathed. The hot hitting Ty Wigginton came to the plate and hit a home run out to left field and the Diamondbacks were behind 3-0. That still didn’t seem that bad. After all the Diamondbacks had scored at least 3 runs in 4 of the last 18 innings and had scored at least 1 run in 11 of 18 innings. With 8 innings left in this game there was plenty of time to come back. Johnson never really had any trouble after the first inning. He threw 7 innings allowing only 8 hits. He walked one batter and struck out 5. With that kind of pitching you would expect Randy to win the game.

Roy Oswalt had other ideas. After watching the pitching staff get crushed during the first two games of the series Oswalt took the team on his back and pitched the game of his life. He threw 8 full innings allowing 1 hit, walking 2, and striking out 10. The Diamondbacks hitters looked completely clueless against him. The hit parade seemed to take a very large detour this last game and Randy Johnson once again found himself with little or in this case no run support. Oh what a difference a day makes. Had Johnson pitched Saturday instead of today he would have recorded his 295th win of his career. Instead he finds himself stuck on 294 and the Diamondbacks winning streak is over. It would be nice if this team could manage the offense so that it is a little more consistent. Right now it is either flowing like a fire hose or completely turned off. That’s not going to do it if the Diamondbacks want to compete for the playoffs.

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